Smoking Garbage

Through nefarious means I have acquired two documents from last year which clearly show that some vendors decided not to bid on the garbage contract because of (and I quote) “the onerous collection requirements.” Also cited: “The potential overlap of collection of ‘unlimited bulky waste’ with the ongoing Hurricane cleanup efforts, which we expect will continue well into next year or longer.”

Here are the documents in PDF if you want to see for yourself: SWDI and WM.

I hasten to mention that our current collector (Richard’s) is doing a far better job than our old collector (Waste Management). But we are paying through the nose for this service, and we aren’t even getting all the service we’re paying for. In particular, we’re not getting the “unlimited bulky waste” pickup because “unlimited” has been construed to mean “less than 25 lbs.”

PS: By “nefarious means” I meant Council Member Stacy Head.

Update: For the record and completeness, here’s the contracts inked by Richard’s and Metro.

Oschner Screwed Us

For most of the year a rumor has circulated in our neighborhood regarding the Lindy Boggs Medical Center. That’s the hospital at Jeff Davis and Bienville which old-timers still call Mercy. It’s the same hospital that was knocked out of commission by flooding. Most recently it was in the news when Tenet Health Care sold the property to Victory Real Estate Investments for redevelopment as a massive retail outlet.

After Katrina, when Oschner bought a number of properties from Tenet, they took a pass on the Lindy Boggs facility. And that’s where the rumor comes in: Supposedly, as a part of the big deal between these giants, a covenant was put on the Lindy Boggs facility stipulating that it could not be sold to any health care provider for some number of years.

Standard business procedure, eliminating potential competition. But in a community recovering from a massive disaster, it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Lindy Boggs

It was never covered in the media to my knowledge, but that rumor now seems to be confirmed. A group of physicians was poised to buy the facility and re-open it as a hospital. They would have paid what Victory paid. But they couldn’t close the deal, apparently because of the covenant. My source is a doctor who has first-hand knowledge of the deal.

So there you have it. Oschner screwed us. Instead of the restoration of the health care facility we desired, my neighborhood gets a shopping mall. I have friends who work for Oschner, fine people, and I’m sure they provide decent care. It’s all in the past now anyway, water under the bridge. But I’ll never forget.

I’m so angry I could puke.

Dirty Deal

This is what I was talking about last Friday. The “dirty deal” relates to the city’s trash disposal contracts. Now that it’s the top story in today’s paper, I can talk about it.

Are you yawning yet? I don’t blame you — unless you live in New Orleans. In that case, you should be angry.

Here’s the story in a nutshell: At the end of last year, the city signed some big fat garbage contracts with some local waste disposal companies. We’re paying far more than we used to, and far more than surrounding parishes. But at least the contract specified unlimited pickup of curbside debris.

So, when FEMA stopped paying for debris pickup this summer, the local companies should have taken over. But they haven’t, and we’ve all seen the result: piles of garbage rotting on the street.

One Month and Counting...

So why are the local guys not stepping up and fulfilling that part of their contract?

Because the City Council in their infinite wisdom passed an ordinance in April limiting curbside debris pickup to 25 lbs. or less.

That stinks. Mind you, we are still paying for the big fat contract. We’re just not getting what we’re paying for.

Why on earth would the council approve such a provision? Could it have anything to do with campaign contributions? Is this a dirty deal? Until I see convincing evidence to the contrary, I have to assume that it is.

We are getting screwed. The cost of debris removal is falling on the shoulders of the private citizen. My neighbor on the corner, for example, who just recently got his Road Home check, has a big debris pile sitting by his house. He will have to pay to have that debris removed. That’s only fair, except that he’s paying for it twice.

The City Council should rescind its rule that curtailed the garbage contract. Give us the service that we are paying for, or give us a refund!

Sworn to Secrecy

I really hate this. I just got a call from a well-informed person in city government, who shared some juicy info that I’m just bustin’ to share. It concerns some dirty dealings related to a recent post on this blog. Problem is, in order to get in on this fascinating dope, I had to promise not to put it into writing. So, I can’t write about it. This is killing me. But at least I can say: I know something you don’t.